Does Kickboxing Tone your Arms?

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kickboxing workout

Kickboxing is a great exercise for the whole body. Actually, in my opinion, it’s the best exercise for losing weight and getting in shape. But does kickboxing particularly give you toned arms?

Does kickboxing tone your arms? Yes, kickboxing ca definitely tone your arms but it probably won’t be enough to accomplish the results you want.

Kickboxing is an aerobic workout that focuses on endurance. It isn’t the most effective workout for building muscles which is a problem because to tone your arms you need to build muscle mass and get rid of the fat.

Don’t get me wrong, by practicing kickboxing you are going to gain some muscle mass. For example, when you are shadowboxing, or hitting the bag, your arm muscles are engaged which builds more muscle mass there. But it probably won’t be enough for you to get toned up.

Toning up isn’t a simple process so kickboxing on its own might not be enough. However, there are some changes you need to make in your kickboxing training order to tone your body.

In the rest of the article, I’m going to talk about what exactly toning up means, what you need to do to tone your arms and what changes to do in your kickboxing training to do that.

What does Toning up Exactly Mean?

Simple said that is when you develop more visible and stronger muscles. To do that you need to cut down some fat and build muscle mass.

Just cutting down weight or just building muscle mass is much easier than doing both things simultaneously. To do that, you need to have a good toning up plan, to be persistent and patient.

How to Tone your Body

In order to tone up your body, you need to lose some fat and gain some muscles. That will tighten up the loose skin and make your body look and feel much better.

The upper arms is one of the places that accumulates a lot of fat and the goal of most people is to get rid of it first.

The bad news is that you can’t focus on a specific part of your body and lose fat specifically there. You’ll lose fat from around your arms but the same thing will happen for your legs, stomach, and your whole body.To get your toned up you need to tone your whole body.

There are 3 things you need to do to get your body toned up:

  1. Cardio
  2. Diet
  3. Weights


The cardio workouts will increase your metabolism which will help you burn fat and tone your arms and your whole body. Intense interval workouts (like kickboxing) are great for that.


The most important thing when it comes to your diet is that 100% needs to be healthy. Avoid crazy fasting and fad diets but reduce the number of calories you consume per day. That way your body will start burning fat which is essential when it comes to toning.

Also, make sure you consume as little unhealthy food you consume (sugary food, snacks, etc). It’s very hard to not consume any but you can reduce them slowly step by step


Weightlifting will help you build the necessary muscle mass to tone up your arms. You don’t have to lift super heavy weights, small weights can work too as long as you do many reps.

Here’s the problem with kickboxing – it focuses on cardio but doesn’t have any weight lifting. However, you can still shadowbox with weights (small weights 2 – 6 lbs depending on your strength) or attend the circuit workout where there will be some weight lifting. Many kickboxing/boxing gyms have a circuit workout once a week where there isn’t kickboxing technique, just different exercises for strength, explosiveness, and endurance.

Kickboxing for Toning up your Arms


Kickboxing is the most effective combat sport for losing weight/getting in shape because it’s a whole body workout, it doesn’t require huge athleticism (like wrestling for example). The reason why it’s so effective is that it’s a fun cardio workout.

It’s very hard to be persistent in your cardio workouts if they consist mostly of running on a treadmill. It’s not that hard but it’s so boring that most people quit before getting the results they want.

On the other hand, when practicing kickboxing you still work on your cardio and endurance which helps you burn fat but you do it in a fun way – doing shadowboxing, drills, bag work or doing jump rope.

It’s much easier to stick to your workout routine when you enjoy doing it. That’s why kickboxing and boxing become more and more popular among people who don’t want to compete or learn how to fight but just get in shape.


As I already mentioned, you need to focus on your cardio in order to get toned up. Kickboxing is a 60-minute intense workout which is great for your cardio.

The workout usually begins with a 15 minute warm up followed by drills, jump rope, shadowboxing or bag work and later sparring. If your goal is cardio I would suggest doing more shadowboing and bag work and less sparring.

the goal of sparring is to learn how to fight and it’s not always intense enough to burn the fat on your body. That’s why people who want to learn self-defense or compete, visit gyms that have fighting teams while people who want to get in shape go to fitness kickboxing classes.



By practicing kickboxing you’ll build muscles but only to a certain extend. To continue building the muscle mass you need to tone your arms you need to lift some weights. Even light weights can work as long as you gradually increase the weights or the set/reps you do (for example trying to do 2-3 reps more every week).

Unfortunately, kickboxers usually don’t lift weights. Speed and agility are much more important than strength in kickboxing so they don’t focus on lifting weights.

Many people believe that weightlifting makes your muscles slow and stiff so even professionals avoid it.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate weight lifting in your kickboxing workout. As I already mentioned, you either do more shadowboxing with weights that will strengthen your arm muscles or just attend the weekly circuit workout.

Another option is to skip one workout every week and go to the fitness gym where you can lift some light weights and focus mostly on your upper arms – biceps, triceps, shoulders.


Depending on the style of kickboxing that your coach is teaching you it can be boxing heavy or kicking heavy. Generally, the Dutch kickboxing style (western kickboxing) is more boxing heavy with kicks at the end of each combination while the Muay Thai kickboxing style is more kicking heavy where punches are mostly used as a distraction to help you set-up your kicks.

Whichever style you choose your legs will definitely get stronger but if your goal is to tone your arms you may want to choose a more boxing-heavy style.

Tips for Toning your Arms with Kickboxing

Kickboxing can tone your arms but it may not be enough to do that soon enough and to the extend you want. However, if your goal is to get toned up arms I do recommend starting kickboxing because it’s a lot of fun which will help you stick much longer than workouts in a regular fitness gym. But to get the results you want, you need to do some changes/additional things to your kickboxing workout routine:

1. Diet – Without a proper diet you can’t lose the fat from around your arms. You need to consume less calories than you burn in order to do that. Do some research and find a good diet for yourself for toning up.

2. Shadowboxing with weights – At least 4 rounds a week (1 round = 3 minutes)

3. Circuit workout- Consider doing circuit workout once a week. If your coach doesn’t do such workouts go to a fitness gym and lift some dubmells.

4. Bag work – Bag worko is great both for you cardio and for you arm mucles. 6-12 rounds per week depending on how often you go to the gym.

5. Focus on punching combinations – If your goal is to tone your arms, punching will help to accomplish that more than kicks.

Dimitar Ivanov

Just a hardcore MMA fan and practitioner who wants to share some info with the world.